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Transitions in Aging

Supporting Individuals with Developmental Disabilities as Caregivers

Effects of Caregiving

  • Stronger family relationships
  • Physical and emotional stress
  • Difficulty managing time
  • Financial strain
  • Difficulty getting needed services/resources for loved one and self

NEXT: What We Can Do

Notes and References

Family members often assume the caregiving role willingly and many have reported that, throughout the caregiving journey, the opportunity to spend more time with each other can develop stronger family ties.1

Yet, providing care to a loved one can also be physically and emotionally taxing.2 Studies have shown that long-term caregiving can result in poor physical health of the caregiver as well as higher levels of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.3,4,5 The everyday stress can put strain on family relationships. Many caregivers reported having a hard time balancing family and work, with many stating they feel guilty about pursuing their own interests, which may lead to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation.2 The most important message is that caregivers must continue caring for themselves in order to provide support to their loved one. This is true for people with developmental disabilities who are in the role of a caregiver as well. Caregivers often put the needs of the care recipient before their own. Aging individuals with developmental disabilities may also face challenges in acquiring the proper services and resources for themselves and their loved ones. As aging individuals with developmental disabilities often need to manage their own healthcare needs, coordinating care for themselves and their loved ones can therefore be complicated and require additional support.


  1. Walsh, F. (2015). Strengthening Family Resilience (3rd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  2. Pinquart, M. & Sorensen, S. (2006). Gender differences in caregiver stressors, social resources, and health: An updated meta-analysis. Journals of Gerontology, Series B Psychological Science and Social Science, 61(1), 33-45.
  3. Revenson, T. A., Griva, K., Luszczynska, A., Morrison, V., Panagopoulou, E., Vilchinsky, N., & Hagedoorn, M. (2016). Caregiving Outcomes Caregiving in the Illness Context (15-24). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
  4. Perkins, E. (2010). The compound caregiver: A case study of multiple caregiving roles. Clinical Gerontologist, 33, 248-254.
  5. Dunn, M. E., Burbine, T., Bowers, C. A. & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2001). Moderators of stress in parents of children with autism. Community Mental Health Journal, 37, 39-52.